Baby bedding buying guide

There's been a lot of talkover the years about how to make sure babies sleep safely. A lot depends on the cot bedding you choose and how you lie your baby down to sleep.

This guide aims to give you everything you need to know about cot bedding and to keep your baby as safe and comfy as possible.

Safe sleeping

For the first six months of your baby's life, experts recommend that your baby sleeps in your bedroom.

However, this doesn't mean they should also share your bed. Although some parents firmly believe in co-sleeping (sleeping in the same bed with their babies), the NHS currently advises against it.

One of the causes of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is thought to be overheating. Because adult duvets aren't suitable for babies(who can't regulate their body temperature in the same way that grown-ups can), your baby is safer in a cot than in your bed.

Your baby should be placed with their feet near the end of the cot, crib or Moses basket. This is sothat they can't wriggle down and get their head trapped under the covers.

Choose the right type of cot mattress

Your baby's cot, crib or Moses basket mattress should fit snugly and be firm. A gap of more than 4cm between the mattress and cot sides can be dangerous, so make sure you have the dimensions of your cot with you when buying a mattress.

The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths or FSID (now known as The Lullaby Trust) recommends you buy a brand-new cot mattress, but if cost is an issue and you've been offered a very lightlyused one, check it thoroughly to ensure it's clean, dry and free from any cracks or tears.

Primary foam mattresses:

With its high-resilience foam core, this type of mattress represents good value for money and is perfect for parents on a tight budget. It is air permeable, which means that moisture is drawn away from your baby's body, resulting in a better night's sleep.

The bonded polypropylene cover can either be wiped clean or machine washed, so it should last a long time.

Spring foam mattresses:

The superior grade foam of a sprung mattress gives your baby excellent comfort and support.

The mattress has a hygienic, anti-allergenic and moisture-resistant surface that allows air to pass through.This reduces perspiration and gives your baby a more comfortable night's sleep. These mattresses can either be wiped clean or machine washed.

Cool flow spring mattresses:

This lightweight and breathable mattress is fitted with a five layer, anti-allergenic material that acts as a barrier to dust mite allergens. The cover is micro quilted, making it a comfy choice for your baby. It's also removable, so you can wash it in the machine.

Eco spring mattresses:

The core of this mattress is made from a high-quality spring unit, encased in high-density foam. It has a breathable quilted cover to give your baby complete comfort.

This environmentally friendly mattress is made with natural, renewable resources - the foam is coloured with organic pigments.

These easy-care mattresses can either be wiped clean or washed in the machine.

Ultra fibre mattresses:

The high-quality polyester core of an ultra fibre mattress gives your baby comfort and support. The mattress has an adjustable waterproof membrane and is fitted with a hygienic cover, which can be wiped clean or machine washed.

Spring interior mattresses:

At the higher end of the budget spectrum, this is a very comfortable mattress. The compressed polyester fibre pads help to regulate your baby's body temperature, giving you both a better night's sleep.

It has a hypo-allergenic, breathable quilted cover that's moisture resistant and allows excellent heat dissipation. It is also machine washable.

Looking after a cot mattress

You can keep your baby's cot mattress clean in several ways, depending on which type you own. If the mattress has a fabric cover, wash it with a mild, non-biological detergent. Then, pull it into shape whilst it's still damp and then leave it to dry naturally.

You can also spot clean minor spills on the mattress with a mild solution of warm water and a non-biological detergent.

Make sure you rinse the solution off thoroughly. Never dry clean mattresses, as cleaning solutions may contain harmful chemicals. Always make sure your mattress is completely dry before putting your baby down on it.

If the mattress has a PVC cover, clean it regularly with a mild solution of warm water and disinfectant or sterilising solution, or use an antibacterial spray.

Buying the right bedding for your baby

Babies are unable to regulate their own body temperature, so cot duvets shouldn't be used during your baby's first year.

Instead, use layers of cotton sheets and cellular (holey) blankets that you can add to or take away.

Pillows must also be avoided for the first year, because of the risk of suffocation. There's a diagram at the bottom of this guide, showing you how many layers to add, depending on the temperature in the room.

Sheets and quilts:

It's best to buy sheets made from natural fabrics (such as cotton) as these will be most comfortable for your baby. Not all adults' quilts can go into the washing machine, but baby quilts almost invariably can.


Cellular blankets (the ones with holes in) are the best choice for your baby as they allow air to circulate. Cotton is the best choice again as it's kindest to your baby's skin.


These fit along the insides of the cot, padding out the bars and stopping your baby from hurting themselves against the sides as they move around.

They're not strictly necessary and many experts advise against their use. If you do use a bumper and it attaches to the cot with ties, fix the bumper in place, then cut the ties short.This stopsyour baby getting caught in them and risking strangulation.

Baby sleeping bags:

These are a relative innovation in baby bedding. They encourage babies to sleep in the feet to foot position and are suitable from birth up until 24 months. A baby sleeping bag gives your baby enough room to have a good wriggle without the risk of blankets being kicked off or being pulled over their head.

Once baby sleeping bags are zipped up your baby can stay warm and sleep safely for longer. Your child is also less likely to get tangled up, or try to stand up in their cot.

Baby sleeping bags are available in a range of sizes and also in summer and winter thicknesses. You should always check that your baby's head can't slip down through the neck hole. Also, choose a sleeping bag without a hood and never add a duvet as well.

Your baby's room temperature

It's important that you keep the room where your baby sleeps at the right temperature. This is ideally somewhere between 16° and 20°C (60° and 68°F). If you think that seems too cool, don't worry. Babies don't need to be very warm-in fact, it's better for them if they're not.

Obviously, though, there will be times during the summer months when the temperature may be higher than the recommended level. Here's a guide to help you decide how many blankets you should put on your baby at night:

Between 13° and 16°C (55° and 60°F) use 1 light sheet and 3 blanket layers. Between 16° and 18°C (60° and 65°F) use 1 light sheet and 2 blanket layers. Between 18° and 21°C (65° and 70°F) use 1 light sheet and 1 blanket. Between 21° and 24°C (70° and 75°F) use 1 light sheet and no blankets.

Always check your baby's room temperature with the correct room thermometer.

This is just one of our comprehensive buying guides to help you choose from the huge range of baby products available. Check out our other guides to help make the best informed decisions for your family: